13-1/2" long, by 5-1/2" wide, by 5-1/2" high.
Teal are small dabblers with long bodies and bills. Males in
breeding plumage have russet-colored bodies with small, dark
spots, black undertail coverts, and white patches on their flanks.
Their heads are dark blue-gray with a distinctive white crescent
in front of each eye. Males are in non-breeding or eclipse plumage
from July to October, during which time they look like females
and can easily be confused with Cinnamon Teal in the same plumage.
Juveniles and females are mottled brown with a dark bill and
yellowish legs. Both males and females have green-black speculums,
with pale blue patches on the forewing.
Teal inhabit shallow wetlands with emergent vegetation. Their
breeding habitat is usually open-country wetlands. During migration
they are sometimes found over the ocean, many miles from shore.
and agile flyers, Blue-winged Teal are often seen in small flocks,
twisting and turning as a single unit. When foraging they usually
stick to very shallow water, plucking food items from the surface
and swimming with their heads partially submerged. They do not
tend to up-end or feed out of the water.
other dabblers, Blue-winged Teal eat grass and aquatic plant
seeds, as well as insects and other aquatic invertebrates. These
invertebrates make up a larger proportion of their diet than
that of other dabblers.
formation begins in the winter and continues through spring migration.
Blue-winged Teal nest on the ground in prairies, coastal meadows,
and other open areas. Nests are usually near water, but may be
several hundred yards away. The nest is a shallow depression
with some grass or weeds, lined with down and usually well concealed
by vegetation. The female incubates 9 to 13 eggs alone for 23
to 24 days. The young leave the nest within a day of hatching
and can swim and find their own food immediately. The female
continues to protect and tend them for a few weeks, but she leaves
them before they are old enough to fly, which happens around
38 to 49 days.
Teal are highly migratory and are, for the most part, absent
from the majority of North America during the cold months of
the year. They winter more extensively in South America than
any other dabbler. They begin migrating later in spring than
other dabblers, with birds arriving on the coast as early as
March, but mostly not before April and May. Single males arrive
first, with pairs and unpaired females following. Males migrate
again from mid-July to mid-August, moving to larger marshes to
undergo their molt. Fall migration starts in early August, and
most birds are gone by mid-October.
of Blue-winged Teal have increased dramatically in the last century.
Blue-winged Teal now outnumber Cinnamon Teal in some parts of
the country. This shift is most likely due to large damming projects
that have converted small wetlands into large reservoirs more
favorable to the Blue-winged than the Cinnamon Teal.